SOUTH BEND, Ind. —
The move might have seemed odd to some, but Kelly, who built his reputation on offensive acumen, wanted a right-hand man who understood exactly what he wanted.
To replace Martin on the defensive side, Bob Elliot was hired from Iowa State to coach safeties. Harry Hiestand was hired away from Tennessee to replace offensive line coach Ed Warinner, and co-defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, who had been with Kelly at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, was promoted to assistant head coach.
“The voice of your coordinators has got to be in lock step with the head coach,” Kelly said. “Now both of these guys have been with me a long time.
“Chuck Martin on offense, I wanted a voice that went back with me to Grand Valley State. And with Bob Diaco someone that goes back to Central Michigan with me. So yeah, it was important to get that voice right.”
The last change Kelly needed to make involved Xs and Os. Kelly wanted to win now, but with a first-year starter and redshirt freshmen at quarterback. He had to adjust his style.
Out went the push-the-pace offense that had helped him reach two BCS games at Cincinnati. In came a more deliberate approach.
“We conduct the game differently,” Martin said. “We set out how we thought this team could win with the personnel we had and with the young quarterback. Most people say ‘OK, you’re going to play the young guy, you’re playing for the future.’ We just went 12-0 with the young guy and he got yanked four times.
“The rest of the world wants 12-0 with no warts. We have plenty of warts. Somehow we’re 12-0. Just goes to show the job (Kelly) did that we made it work week in and week out with what we have.”